Part 42: Turn 37: With Enemies Like ThisOne problem with the Dominions 3 messaging system is that messages can only be transmitted between turns. A simple conversation gives a 2-turn delay between replies, and that can make diplomatic dealings difficult.
Naturally, most players resort to other systems to talk in realtime. E-mail, SA PMs, and IRC are all common. iLurk, the guy behind C'tis, sent me a message on IRC a few turns ago, which I will summarize here.
iLurk> I'm gonna give you all my shit
iLurk> Murder migard for me
iLurk> also gath
iLurk> but migard mostly
iLurk> Also, I hope you have someone with death
iLurk> as you get the artifact scepter with +3
ZorbaTHut> midgard went AI, yo
ZorbaTHut> (yeah I find this confusing also)
iLurk> well, no fucking wonder why I got invaded then
iLurk> well, Gath murdered my main army and the AI is sweeping up my east
(cut a bit)
iLurk> you get more lightless lanterns then you can imagine
ZorbaTHut> oh man <3
ZorbaTHut> I've been producing priestesses with the intention of starting my own lightless lantern factory
ZorbaTHut> that will help quite a bit, half of my RP is off fighting t'ien ch'i right now
Holy Lightless Lanterns, Batman!
I'm gonna go over what they are, and why they're important, after we deal with messages.
Excellent, Midgard might get jumped from its rear. I do respond to Jomon, though.
(I managed to botch my screenshot system again, so you get it in text form.)
Jomon reply posted:
Well, at least you're picking up lots of easy territory. I mean, it could be worse. You could lose your entire army to a nation that was down to a single goddamn province.
not like, you know, that happened or anything.
I hope he'll end up fighting Mictlan, since that will keep him out of my hair.
The vast majority of this stuff we can already make, with the exception of blood magic and Blood Stones. Blood Stones are pretty awesome, and I'd love to have a few. However, first, we're going to be leaping on Gath as soon as T'ien Ch'i is dead, and so they might (quite reasonably) refuse payment as we're invading them. Second, I simply don't have the forces in place to tackle Midgard easily. Third, I don't actually want to stop Midgard, I'd be quite happy if Gath ended up with his hands full fighting them.
Fourth, Midgard already blew through that border and is well on its way into C'tis.
Gath reply posted:
Unfortunately I simply do not have the military strength there needed to stop Midgard without heavy losses. If there's any low-cost ways I can help you out, let me know, but most of my effort is tied up with T'ien Ch'i.
I don't know what your scouting is like, but note that Midgard is summoning a pile of Dispossessed Spirits. Having a few Banish spammers will certainly not hurt. I can try to keep you updated with slightly-delayed intelligence reports if it would help.
We unearth a new Water site.
T'ien Ch'i is wising up to my Mind Hunt shenanigans. Not surprising - it wouldn't last forever. I can still harry his reinforcements, but his forts are placed so that he can pretty much hop reinforcements from fort to fort.
Not like that will stop me, but it's almost time to start Healing en masse.
Some events are really, really good.
And some are fuck you barbarians.
Seriously, what the hell is up with the barbarians this game? I've never had this much barbarian trouble in a single-player game.
Well, I warned Mictlan that Midgard was on the way. Let's see whether Skinshifters or Jaguar Warriors are tougher.
It's actually a pretty close battle, with significant casualties on both sides.
Luckily for Mictlan, their Bless gives some pretty impressive defensive bonuses, and they manage to drive Midgard off - but one or two dozen more Skinshifters and it might have gone differently.
On the other hand, this is the AI. Their first attack is usually the most sensible, since it's using the armies the human players put together. After this, they devolve into random crud that they pull out of their ass.
For example! Midgard attacks a moderately heavily defended province with . . . well, with nothing. They lose almost immediately.
There's a bit of a clusterfuck in Cythia, just north of C'tis's old southeast defensive fortress.
Midgard easily takes the province from C'tis.
Then Midgard easily keeps the province from Gath. Splat. Whoops.
This may be a major problem for Gath. See, most people say the Dom3 AI has no diplomatic sense. From what I can tell, they're wrong: it has a very, very primitive sense. Namely, it considers itself at peace with everyone until either they attack it or it decides to attack. The latter's actually rather rare. But the instant you attack it - and an accidental "attack" like this may very well count - it considers itself to be at war with you until . . . well . . . the game ends.
So Gath might now be on Midgard's war list. That's actually an issue, especially with that giant blob of werewolves.
I'm not even going to bother showing Feral Woods: it's a large Skinshifter army versus a single mage. Nor will I show you Cacevic Highlands, which is a large army versus . . . well, one PD and a scout.
(I guess newly-recruited scouts don't go into Hide mode immediately. Sad.)
As I'd suspected, T'ien Ch'i had tried to break out of Sermioc with all his forces, and I could have taken it with a scout.
And finally, Mictlan invades Abysia's capital.
This is Abysia's Pretender God, an immobile fountain of screaming blood. The item it's got is a Bear Claw Talisman, an accessory that increases strength, a stat which is almost solely for melee combat. This is completely and utterly useless for a statue-type Pretender. Good ol' AI.
Mictlan does surprisingly poorly. For whatever reason, whether that be good AI choice or old player scripts, Abysia spams Stellar Cascades en masse. Stellar Cascades is that spell that causes massive fatigue in a radius, and they're doing so much fatigue damage that Mictlan's units are unconscious or dying from it. Nevertheless, enough Jaguar Warriors break through to kill Abysia's few ground forces, and the mages rout immediately after.
We also lost a pile of scouts. Goddamn.
This is T'ien Ch'i's province defense. Come on, guys!
Okay. Let's talk about those Lanterns.
There are three research boosters in the game, at Construction 2, 4, and 6. The first is the Owl Quill, a low-level Air item. It costs five Air gems to make and provides 3 Research - just not all that useful, though better than nothing.
Next up is the Skull Mentor. 10 Death gems, 9 research. It's expensive, but extremely powerful. These are one of the reasons I've been pushing my Death economy so heavily. I want these damn skulls. I've never had the Death gems to spare, however.
Finally is the Lightless Lantern. 5 Fire gems, 6 research. Sounds great, right?
The Lightless Lantern has one big disadvantage. It comes with a 3% chance of Horror Mark. I've mentioned Horror Marks before - once you get Horror Marked, you're doomed, one way or another. The Lightless Lantern is great for nations with lots of cheap disposable research mages, but not so great for other nations.
And that's another reason I love Priestesses.
A Lightless Lantern will turn a 4-RP Priestess into a 10-RP powerhouse. I've got a lot of Priestesses, and I've got a lot of Lanterns. It's a match made in heaven.
And keep in mind that we can make them at Construction 6. I just got Construction 6, and I've got a pile of Fire gems without any obvious purpose. We're going to forge the shit out of Lightless Lanterns of our very own.
(Future Me: Okay, so, I'm overestimating Horror Marks a lot here, actually. I think I mentioned this in detail earlier in another Future Me comment, but a single Horror Mark is a paltry 2% chance of a horror every turn. So in summary you've got a 3% chance every turn of increasing your chance of instant death by 2%. Which is honestly not all that bad.
Lightless Lanterns are just plain good items, with very little downside.
okay you wouldn't want to put one on your Pretender God but that's the only real issue)
Actually, let's just write up a Forging List.
* Water Bracelet: +1 water booster. This, plus one of my Robes of the Sea, will let my Sibyls forge Clams. We should also put together another Robe of the Sea at some point soon, as we still have a lot of Water searching to do.
* Starshine Skullcap: +1 astral booster. It's cheaper than the Crystal Coins are, and will let me gear up Mind Hunting even more, although that's of dubious use right now.
* Ring of Sorcery: +1 Astral, Blood, Death, and Nature. This is a powerful and important booster. I'll need for Mrs. Butterworth to have a Crystal Coin and a Starshine Skullcap to forge one, but this Ring is one of the two items that lets you get the paths necessary to cast the ultra-powerful global enchants.
* Ring of Wizardry: And this is the other one. +1 to all paths. I'll need the Coin, Skullcap, and Ring of Sorcery to make this, so I'd better get started down this path ASAP. Unfortunately, the two Rings are expensive - 40 Astral and a painful 65 Astral, respectively - so I may have to save up a bit for them.
* Oh right, more clams.
* Lightless Lanterns. They only require Fire 1 to forge, so those will go fast.
* Another Dwarven Hammer. I'm really burning through items quickly, and saving gems never hurts.
* Moonvine Bracelet, a +1 Nature booster. This and the Thistle Mace will give me what I need to summon the Faery Queen eventually.
* Treelord's Staff, a +2 Nature booster. I'll need the Moonvine Bracelet first (or one of the Rings). This is one of those "no real plans yet" items, except that it doesn't hurt. It's also very expensive and I probably won't make it for a while.
So, yeah. We've got a lot of stuff on our plate.
The Water Bracelet is easy enough, I just grab a random W1 Mystic. The Skullcap is equally easy - literally any of my Sibyls can manage that, and it gets a Dwarven Hammer to cut down on its 10 Astral cost. My N3 Sibyl can forge the Moonvine Bracelet, so I hand her a Dwarven Hammer. Even with that it's 11 Nature and 3 Astral, but what can you do.
I'm leaving my army in Sermioc so I can take advantage of my Mystics. Any Mystic with Water 2, Fire 2, or Earth 2 casts site-searching spells. Any Mystic with Fire 1 forges a Lantern. Anyone remaining researches. I'll put off the Hammer for a bit, I want those gems for Earth sitesearching.
The end result is that I'm forging another eight Lightless Lanterns - that's another 48 RP starting next turn - and dropping 14 sitesearching spells across my nation. 22 mages occupied in production for this turn, and many of them won't be occupied next turn. We'll hold off on more expensive crafting until we have free Hammers, but starting next turn we can have a Sibyl forging Clams en masse.
Whew. Lotta crafting, lotta items.
And then I realize that I've only got two non-braindamaged S3 Sibyls left, which is what I need for Mind Hunting, and that it's time to start my priestesses Healing. Argh. TIME TO MOVE SOME LANTERNS
(I end up passing them to my Sages. My Sages are cheap and dying anyway - in fact, I make sure to give one to my Diseased sage, just gotta remember to take it off him in four turns - and now they're doing a truly hilarious 14 RP each.)
After all is said and done, I'm doing 299 RP this turn. That's still a bit below my peak of 320, but remember: that's 299 RP with twenty-two mages occupied. Without that, I'd be doing north of 400, and after I get that next batch of Lanterns built, I'll be hitting 450. In other words, I'm about to leap the fuck up the research charts. It shall be glorious.
It's still going to take a while to finish research, note - I'm about 2000 RP away from Conjuration 8. But we're talking half a dozen turns or so, at most.
In terms of war, this is going to be a quiet turn. T'ien Ch'i isn't within reach of any provinces besides Qennan and Sermioc. I don't care about Qennan, and Sermioc is well-defended. My army is stagnant while my casters forge and sitesearch. I'm sending a strike team to reclaim the barbarian province, but mostly I'm hunkering down a bit - I'd love to do a lot more damage but everything I could do costs gems I can't spare. I think they might be accumulating their forces at Behemoth's Rest, so I take a suicidal scout (he's actually diseased somehow - he's got two months to live, so I may as well do something useful with him) and send him to attack that province.
Next: The dual machines of War and Research.